Top cop, councillors in heated face-off

Police chief Chris Tang Ping-keung said the emotional outbursts of district councillors were regrettable after he took a verbal beating in the first district council meeting he attended since the pro-democracy camp's landslide victory. Central and Western District councillors - 14 of 15...

Sophie Hui

Friday, January 17, 2020

Police chief Chris Tang Ping-keung said the emotional outbursts of district councillors were regrettable after he took a verbal beating in the first district council meeting he attended since the pro-democracy camp's landslide victory.

Central and Western District councillors - 14 of 15 are pan-democrats - criticized and mocked the police commissioner during the meeting yesterday as they condemned alleged police brutality on protesters.

Pro-democracy councillor Ho Chi-wang asked if he would resign since "a lot of people are dissatisfied" with police performance.

Tang said such demands are made by those intimidated by his righteousness. "I can say with assurance I am doing a good job. Only those who are afraid of my righteousness want me to quit," he said.

Tang said his performance should be evaluated by society and he believes some people agree with him.

He said a police chief is not a part of the accountability system and there is no way for him to step down and take responsibility.

Councillor Wong Weng-chi brought a piece of raw pork - a reference to framing somebody in Cantonese slang. He requested police install more CCTV cameras at police stations "to prevent people being assaulted by officers."

Tang said such accusations were groundless but agreed that there can be more security cameras in practical situations.

The Democratic Party's Ted Hui Chi-fung, who is also a lawmaker, asked Tang if police have made any mistakes during the social unrest.

Tang admitted that police can do better in many areas, such as operations strategy, communication with the press and overall attitude toward the public.

Hui also asked Tang how he would respond to the public's low confidence in the police force. Tang admitted that the public have a poor perception of police and their work could be more transparent.

But he said some people have been misled by fake news and misinformation.

Tang said there was a lot false information and pictures on the internet and media over the last half year, such as claims that people died at the MTR Prince Edward station on August 31 last year. He said the misinformation damaged the credibility of police, adding though the truth always comes out, he could not accept groundless criticism and malicious smearing.

Regarding a case where a teenage girl claimed she was raped by police in a police station, Tang said the force is investigating whether she misled officers and provided false statements.

Tang also told the councillors that 7,019 people have been arrested since the protests broke out in June. About 40 percent - or 2,847 - of them are students.

He left when councillors raised a motion to condemn his "failure to manage police and his involvement in police brutality," and to request the government fire Tang and form an independent investigation committee. The motion passed by a 14 to one vote.

About 100 police supporters and protesters turned up outside the Harbour Building in Central ahead of the meeting.

Council chairwoman Cheng Lai-king of the Democratic Party kicked out police supporters who shouted and clapped their hands during the meeting.

sophie.hui@singtaonewscorp.com

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